"The overall form of the team has impressed us but we all still feel there is room for improvement."

– Mick Phelan

11/02/2009 09:23, Report by James Tuck
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Phelan positive

There will be the odd strange result between now and the end of the season, but we have the experience and knowledge now to be able to cope with that. At the moment everything is going the way we want it to go, but we all still feel there is room for improvement, which is a good sign.

Is it realistic for United to win five trophies this season?
Well, it’s never been done! But we are always challenged to produce football of the highest quality, to produce outstanding players, to entertain – that’s our remit as a football club. From coaches to players, there is a responsibility to deliver all those things and I think we do most of the time.

How do the coaches prepare the players for games in different competitions?
In the main we don’t approach each competition differently, although the only possible exception to that would be in Europe, outside our domestic sphere. Europe throws up different challenges – pitches, stadiums and atmospheres, but also systems of play, tempos and the quality of play, which is quicker and more decisive. It poses a different challenge, but the experience we have of playing European football regularly helps us.

Some pundits are saying the title race is between United and Liverpool, others that Chelsea are still the Reds’ main threat. What is your view?
As well as the top three there are other teams who could throw a spanner in the works along the way – Aston Villa are having a fantastic time at the moment. This season is interesting because teams from outside the top four are taking points from everybody, so it’s not as clear cut as it is when two teams run away with it. Between now and the end of the season there’ll be some surprises, and they can come from any team in the league.

Has that made this season more enjoyable?
Yes. Every game is a challenge and we can’t afford to relax. It went all the way last year – nobody is going to run away with this league. We just have to make sure that when the big games come, we’re prepared to put in that little extra in order to win the game.

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